Can a four day adventure to Greece be considered slow travel? The answer is a resounding yes if you are lucky enough to stay at the Costa Navarino about one hour south of Calamata, in the southwest Pelleponnese, the southernmost peninsula off the Greek mainland, and four hours south of Athens. This area is world renowned for its olive trees, olives (hence Calamata olives) and extra virgin olive oil. In fact the bus trip to the hotel introduced us to the lush foliage, the rolling hills of olive orchards and grape vines, and beautiful wild flowers.
Arriving at our hotel we were thrilled to see the view from our porch door, allowing us to hear the crashing of the waves on the shore night and day, and enjoy the spectacular views, the windsurfers and the birds.
To better understand what I am talking about have a look at the video below:
We just couldn’t soak up enough of the porch and the natural beauty surrounding us, thus we decided not to sign up for the variety of bus tours offered under the auspices of the medical conference we were part of, and opted to enjoy a few “slow trips” on our own, making sure we had plenty of time to explore at our own pace and return to our room to enjoy “our”
The first trip we took was to the town of Pylos, about a thirty minute bus ride from the hotel. Pylos is an ancient town, built on the side of a mountain, and highly reminiscent of the Amalfi coast that we recently had visited.
While walking around the streets of Pylos, enjoying the fine weather, the friendly people, and the beautiful sites, we chanced on an elderly woman who threw us a greeting.
We climbed up to the newer fortress, from the 16th century and learned about the troubled history of the Greeks, particularly as they fought off the Turks.
Aside from the nineteenth century cannons and cannon balls that flew here, we enjoyed the expansive vistas and beautiful views.
Our second outing consisted of a 20 km bike ride to the Voidakillia Beach famed to be the most beautiful beach in Greece. It is shaped like the Greek letter Omega, and because of the natural breakers, the water is very calm, albeit still quite cold.
The bike ride also took us around the Gialova Lagoon, which is a beautiful nature reserve.
If you look carefully at the picture you can actually see Mike on his bicycle on the far right.
This adventure was just four days long, yet undoubtedly it was a slice of slow travel. While we didn’t meet many Greek people, and the only word we learned in Greek was thank you – “ef̱charistó̱”, we enjoyed the scenery, the feta cheese and olives, the relaxation, the sun, the wind, the beach and most especially the crashing waves of the Ionian Sea.